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NR 114, 146, 524 Update: 

The Operator Certification program is launching a new computer-based format for all Operator Certification exams. Additional information regarding the new exam format, applications and registration can be found at Operator Certification Exams.

General Exam Information

Ch. NR 114, 499 and 524 Wis. Adm. Code require an individual to pass one or more exams in order to become a certified operator. These exams are provided by a private vendor (PSI) who offers exams at seven computer labs across the state as well as online exams completed remotely from the exam taker's computer.

All exams will be completed using a computer, with the only exception being the Wastewater - Unique (Subclass U) exam (subclass U). For additional information for Subclass U exams please see the "Non-Computer Exams" tab.

All exams are multiple choice except the Wastewater - Unique (Subclass U) exam , which is short answer. Question information for each exam is listed below:

  • Wastewater – General: 50 questions
  • Wastewater - Suspended Growth Processes: 50 questions
  • Wastewater - Attached-Growth Processes: 50 questions
  • Wastewater –Recirculating Media Filters: 25 questions
  • Wastewater – Ponds, Lagoons, and Natural Systems: 50 questions
  • Wastewater – Anaerobic Treatment of Liquid Waste: 25 questions
  • Wastewater – Solids Separation: 50 questions
  • Wastewater – Biological Solids/Sludge: 50 questions
  • Wastewater – Disinfection: 50 questions
  • Wastewater - Laboratory: 50 questions
  • Wastewater – Total Nitrogen: 25 questions
  • Wastewater – Total Phosphorus: 50 questions
  • Wastewater - Sanitary Sewer Collection System: 50 questions
  • Wastewater – Advanced: 100 questions
  • Municipal Waterworks – Distribution: 40 questions
  • Municipal Waterworks – Groundwater: 40 questions
  • Municipal Waterworks – Iron Removal: 40 questions
  • Municipal Waterworks – Lime Softening: 40 questions
  • Municipal Waterworks – Surface Water: 80 questions
  • Municipal Waterworks – VOC Removal: 40 questions
  • Municipal Waterworks – Zeolite Softening: 40 questions
  • Small Water System – Water System General Operation: 40 questions
  • Septage – Septage Operator Grade L: 40 questions
  • Septage - Septage Operator Grade T: 40 questions
  • Septage – Septage Master Operator Grade L: 25 questions
  • Septage - Septage Master Operator Grade T: 40 questions
  • Solid Waste – Site Operator: 50 questions
  • Solid Waste - Facility Manager: 50 questions
  • Private Water - Pump Installer: 100 questions
  • Private Water - Water Well Driller: 100 questions
  • Private Water – Heat Exchange Driller: 80 questions

A score of 75% or higher is a passing score for Municipal Waterworks, Wastewater, Septage, and Small Water Systems (OTM/NN) exams. A score of 70% or higher is a passing score for Solid Waste (Landfill) exams.

Exam results are provided to the exam taker immediately upon completing the exam. The one exception is the Wastewater - Unique exam, which can take up to four weeks for grading and notification. An additional score report will be provided to the exam taker via email by PSI.

Additional information, including study guides, can be found under the various program certification tabs, which can be found on the righthand side of this webpage

New Exam Format - Overview

Beginning in October 2021, Wisconsin's certification exams will be provided on the new computer-based format.

The old format of in-person, DNR-proctored exams will no longer be used, except in rare situations (see Exam Hardship Process section under the Hand-Written Exams tab).

The new exam format will allow for taking exams whenever they fit into your schedule, offering both an in-person option (at one of seven computer labs around the state) and a remote virtual option (from a work or personal computer). The new exam process will also provide results immediately to the test taker upon completing the exam.

Additional information regarding the differences between the two exam options, the new application process, the new scheduling steps with DNR's vendor PSI, and other information can be found on the tabs below.

Exam Options

Computer Lab Exams: In-Person

PSI has computer labs available in the cities listed below.

  • Stevens Point
  • Green Bay
  • Fond du Lac
  • La Crosse
  • Madison
  • Milwaukee
  • Racine

Remote Proctor Exams: Online

"Online exams”, known as “remote proctoring” (RP) exams, can be taken online from any location as long as the computer or laptop meets the requirements of PSI's exam format (internet connection, webcam, microphone).

Once the DNR exam application has been submitted and approved, the exam applicant will be contacted directly via email by PSI to register for the specific exam and schedule the exam date and time.

Technology Requirements: Compatibility Check for Online Exam

After scheduling, exam applicants who select the online exam format will receive a confirmation email from PSI with instructions for accessing the online examination. In that confirmation email, applicants are required to run PSI's technology compatibility tool (PSI Bridge: Online Proctoring System Requirements platform) to verify that the exam applicant has the appropriate hardware and software for remote-proctor exams. This tool will also be launched on the day of exam administration as a final check for compatibility.

PSI technology requirements for online, remote proctored exams include a functioning webcam, microphone, and internet connection. A full list of computer system requirements will be tested for by PSI’s technology compatibility tool.

Exam Scheduling

The DNR’s previous exam structure had a set date for exams that occurred once every three months. After receiving DNR exam application approval, the new exam format allows for exams to be scheduled on any date preferred by the exam taker. Computer lab exams are available six days per week and online, remote proctored exams are available seven days per week.

Upon receiving the exam registration and scheduling email from PSI, an exam applicant can schedule an exam as soon as the next day. More information regarding exam scheduling can be found under the "DNR Exam Applications" tab.

Exam Time Limits

New time periods have been set based on the specific exam or exam bundle being taken. Exam time lengths are listed on the DNR Exam Application forms.

Hand-written Exams

Wastewater - Unique (Subclass U) Exams

The only exam that will not be a computer-based format is Wastewater - Unique (subclass U). To request an application for a Subclass U exam please email DNROpCert@wisconsin.gov with the subject line "Wastewater - Unique (subclass U) exam request)

Exam Hardship Process

If an exam applicant has a legitimate documented reason for being unable to complete an exam either in-person at a testing center or from a personal or employer computer via remote proctor, please contact the Operator Certification Coordinator to request a hardship waiver at DNROpCert@wisconsin.gov.

Note: hardship exam sessions will only be approved on an extremely limited basis.

In-person exams will only be permitted for approved hardship waivers and Wastewater-Unique exams.

Private Water

The Private Water program has three exams to become a Private Water license holder:

  • Pump Installer
  • Water Well Driller
  • Heat Exchange Driller

Private Water exams are open-code. Chapters NR 146, 811, and 812 will be available for reference in digital or hard copy format depending on exam platform selection. A digital copy of code will be made available for exams taken online or in a PSI computer lab. A hard copy of code will be available upon request for in-person exams taken at a PSI computer lab.

Pump Installer Applicants

Pump Installer license exam applicants should download, complete, and submit the exam application by mail with the required fee to the mailing address found on the form. The application can be downloaded from the "DNR Exam Applications" tab.

Driller Applicants

Water Well Driller and Heat Exchange Driller exam applicants must request an application by emailing DNRDGLicensing@wisconsin.gov. After eligibility review and approval, the exam application will be provided to the applicant for completion and submittal via mail.

DNR Exam Applications

Print or download, complete, and mail the appropriate exam application form and exam application fee to the DNR's Operator Certification program. Please note that you may only register for one exam per exam application unless you are registering for a bundled exam (bundled exams are pre-set packages of more than one exam which are taken during the same testing session). Bundled exam application forms can be found at the bottom of the page under the "Bundled exam application" section.

Exam application fees can be paid for by check, money order, or cash. Please write all checks to "Wisconsin DNR". Submit completed exam application and fee(s) to the mailing address below. The Operator Certification program will review and process complete applications within 10 business days of the mail being received.

Department of Natural Resources
Operator Certification EA/7
PO Box 7921 Madison, WI
53707-7921

Required Information And Materials

Any exam application form that is missing any of the following information will either be put on hold for processing until the information is provided, or will be mailed back to the exam applicant with a request to provide the missing information.

Below is a list of exam applicant information or materials that will cause an application to be considered incomplete, if omitted:

  • Email address
  • Social Security number (page 2 of each exam application form)
  • Exam fee(s)
  • Certification of high school diploma/GED: Municipal Waterworks and Small Water System--OTM/NN-- exams only

PSI Exam Registration and Scheduling

Once a DNR application has been approved and processed, the Operator Certification program will forward the exam applicant's information to PSI, after which exam applicants will be contacted by PSI via email within two business days.

The email sent by PSI will provide a link to PSI’s exam registration and scheduling platform. Registration includes an exam registration fee based on exam time length. The PSI exam fee should not be submitted to DNR. The below fees will be requested by PSI during the exam registration and scheduling process. Any DNR exam application that is submitted with the PSI fee will be returned to exam applicant.

  • 1-hour session: $70
  • 2-hour session: $80
  • 3-hour session: $90

Exam registration will provide two exam options. Additional information regarding these two options can be found under the "Exam Options" tab.

  • Computer lab: in-person
  • Online: remote proctor (RP)

Application Forms

Below are the DNR exam application forms for each program. Please review the Required information and materials section above before completing an application form. If an applicant wants to take more than one exam during the same testing session they must apply for a bundled exam.

Renew Online

You can now renew your wastewater, municipal waterworks, and small water system certifications online through the Environmental Licensing and Certification Online Renewal Portal.